Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pageflakes and iGoogle

One tool just starting to be explored is a customized homepage. This is essentially a page that can hold different widgets or rss feeds. It places those in different boxes on the page, allowing you to see several things at once (and thereby letting you take off in that direction).

There are two top brands of this tool, Pageflakes and iGoogle. iGoogle does integrate well with Google Reader, gmail, and other google programs you are using. Plus, it comes with many more personalized options, as several 3rd parties have created widgets (which it calls "gadgets") for you to customize your screen. Some are very educational (Google Earth map of places in the news), some are more entertaining (all types of games).

But most educators will probably be more interested in Pageflakes for the simple reason that it is easy to share your customized page. Creating a "pagecast", you can share the collection of feeds that you have so your students, using the url, get a head start on gathering the information you would like them to.

I have a sample pageflake I've just created here. But Will Richardson has probably a better example of the education use of Pageflakes with his page on Darfur. Using a mixture of feeds from world news, US news, photos, youtube tags, delicious tags, and search results, he has created a resource that always provides students with the latest content on the topic. Both Pageflakes and iGoogle are fairly easy to put together and can be a valuable resource for the classroom focusing on rss.

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